Isiah Thomas

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Isiah Lord Thomas III (born April 30, 1961 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American former professional basketball player and coach, and is currently the president of basketball operations for the NBA's New York Knicks. His name is spelled "Isiah" but pronounced the same as the more common "Isaiah." He also goes by the nicknames "Zeke" and "Cuts" (for the numerous cuts over his eyelids).


College and Olympic Career

Thomas played for Indiana University and was named to the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, although the U.S. boycotted that year's games in Moscow in protest of the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. He left Indiana for the National Basketball Association in 1981, after a sophomore year in which he led the Hoosiers to the NCAA national title; he earned a bachelor's degree from IU several years later.

NBA Career - As A Player

From 1981 to 1994 Thomas had a stellar career as a point guard with the Detroit Pistons. He was a 12-time NBA All-Star, and is the Pistons' all-time leader in both points and assists.

With fellow "Detroit Badboys" teammates Joe Dumars, Rick Mahorn, The "Microwave" Vinny Johnson, Dennis Rodman, and Bill Laimbeer, he led the Pistons to NBA titles in 1989 and 1990, and was voted NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in 1990. He once scored 16 points in 93 seconds in the 1984 NBA Playoffs against the New York Knicks.

Post NBA Career

After retirement Thomas was part owner and Executive Vice President for the expansion Toronto Raptors from 1994 to 1998, but left the organization after a dispute with new management. After leaving the Raptors, Thomas became a television commentator (first as the lead game analyst with play-by-play man Bob Costas and then as part of the studio team) for NBC. Thomas became the owner of the Continental Basketball Association from 1998 to 2000. From 2000 to 2003 he coached the Indiana Pacers. In 2001, Thomas was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. On December 22, 2003, he was given the job of president of basketball operations by the New York Knicks, immediately changing the face of the franchise by trading for star point guard Stephon Marbury, the promising small forward Tim Thomas and emerging shooting guard Jamal Crawford. However, the plan misfired with disastrous results, resulting in an highly overpaid team without chemistry which missed the playoffs by finishing last in the Atlantic Division.

Thomas, a self-proclaimed fan of popcorn who has served as the official spokesperson for National Popcorn Poppin' Month, is a partner in the New York-based gourmet-popcorn chain Dale & Thomas Popcorn. It was known as Popcorn, Indiana prior to his investment. The company currently has three stores, two in Manhattan and one in New Jersey, plus online and mail-order operations.

Career Highlights

One of Thomas's best known and most self-defining performances came in an NBA Finals game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Although he badly twisted his ankle in the game, Thomas continued to play. While hobbling and in obvious pain, Isiah was still able to score 26 points in a single quarter of that contest, a NBA Finals record. He will also be remembered for how his Pistons refused to shake hands with the Chicago Bulls team that finally beat the defending champs in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1991. Rumors would surface that this rivalry between Thomas and Michael Jordan would trigger Thomas's exclusion from the 1992 Dream Team Olympic basketball team that would go on to win the gold medal in Barcelona, Spain. Fans of the Boston Celtics also remember him for his inbound pass stolen by Larry Bird in the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals that decided the game and ultimately the series in favor of the Celtics.

Thomas was ranked #17 on SLAM Magazine's Top 75 NBA Players of all time in 2003.

Lifetime Stats

  • Games: 979
  • PTS: 18,822
  • PPG: 19.2
  • APG: 9.3
  • RPG: 3.6
  • STL: 1,861
  • FG%: .452
  • FT%: .759

Preceded by:
Darrell Griffith
NCAA Tournament
Most Outstanding Player (men)
Succeeded by:
James Worthy
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